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Surgeon:
From Farthest Known Objects (Dynamic Tension)

Anthony
Child has been a justifiably renown figure in techno since his
earliest records in the early to mid 90s. His biting, clinical flavor
of techno is among the strongest of its kind and helped define the
sound of minimal, harder techno in the UK and Europe throughout the
nineties. Over 20 years later, he’s still going strong under his most
familiar moniker, Surgeon, and From Farthest Known Objects may be one
of his most distinct statements yet. As has seemed the case with many
techno producers who’ve both shaped and soldiered through the
evolution of the genre, he’s opted to create the eight tracks on this
one with a modular synthesis rack. The whole throwback to rack
synthesis over software or samples or prefab synths has been en vogue
for a few years now (perhaps best encapsulated in the techno reworks
of Bob Ostertag by Rrose, released a few years ago), but Surgeon
puts his inimitable stamp on it with the collection of tracks that
is not only totally functional for a sophisticated dancefloor, but
also really fucking weird. It’s like aliens heard a fuzzy
transmission of techno and came back with their own response. The
underpinnings of the opening cut “EGS-zs8-1” (yes, all of the
track titles are equally scientific and unmemorable) should seem like
a familiar techno jam, but its “drums” are really just detuned,
bulbous, squishy synth stabs, with the pile-on effect of its layers
transforming it into something less alien as a whole. Isolating these
elements apart from one another, they feel weirder, less typical,
more like a simulation of dance music through utterly atypical
technology.

“z8_GND_5296” is perhaps cleaner, and even more
relentless in its buzzy, FM gallop and far-off snappy snares. Its
limited palette of sounds circles from back to front and left to
right while a nagging toggling octave propels the track forward as a
bassline of sorts. “SXDF-NB10006-2” features similarly squelchy
patterns of synths as would-be drums, with its modulated chirps and
accents feeling like pioneering electronic musician David Tudor
making a club banger. Such is the case also with “ULAS J1120+0641,”
whose grinding patterns interweave and heave in tandem, with its kick
only hitting in a halfbeat mode and instead the rest of its
arrangement clattering to essentially compel physical movement by any
means necessary. Some of the tracks are perhaps less alien by nature,
however. “GN-108036” feels more like a traditionally persistent
banger, cleaner with less frenzied LFO on its percussion sounds. As
with many of the album’s tracks, once a cut starts, it continues to
hammer away until it stops. And yet to describe this music as simply
repetitious does it a disservice; as with most prime techno that sets
it apart from soundalikes, there is a good amount of finesse and
sensitivity to pacing in this music, with just enough changing
regularly to keep things interesting. And that is not to mention the
most obvious distinguishing factor: the sounds themselves. I am
willing to wager that if you took all of the patterns of these tracks
and spit them out as MIDI, and then played them back with a 90s
arsenal of sounds and gear, they would very much feel in line with
the rest of Surgeon’s impressive œuvre, but the fact remains that
its adventurous use of more experimental sounds across its
arrangements is a major reason for the awesome success of From
Farthest Known Objects
, our favorite release of 2016.

Buy it: Surgeon Shop